Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Dec. 8, 2021

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Biden signs debt limit hike, but December standoff looms

$480B increase ensures U.S. can pay bills in short term

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law a bill raising the nation’s debt limit until early December, delaying the prospect of an federal default that would cause economic disaster.

The House passed the $480 billion increase in the country’s borrowing ceiling on Tuesday, after the Senate approved it on a party-line vote last week. The eventual approval came after a protracted standoff with Senate Republicans, who derailed initial Democratic efforts with filibusters, delays that require 60 votes to halt.

Ultimately, a handful of Senate Republicans agreed to join Democrats and voted to end GOP delays and move to a final vote on the legislation, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Republicans will offer no support for another increase in December.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had warned that the U.S. would hit its borrowing limit Monday, an unprecedented situation that she and others cautioned could lead to economic catastrophe for a nation still reeling from a global pandemic. Routine government payments to Social Security beneficiaries, disabled veterans and active-duty military personnel would potentially be delayed, and the economic fallout in the U.S. could ripple through global markets.

The passage of the short-term debt ceiling increase ensures that, for now, the U.S. will continue to meet its obligations. But it sets up another potential cliff at the end of the year — at a time when lawmakers will also be working to pass a federal funding bill to avert a government shutdown.

Republicans have said Democrats should use a budgetary maneuver to pass an increase in the debt limit without Republican support.

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